Have you ever heard of the amygdala highjack? If you haven’t heard of this term, you may want to familiarize yourself with it!
Anxiety and stress have become an epidemic, especially now because of Covid-19. Stress not only causes physical changes in your body, but it can also lead to illness and disease. Even though some types of stress and anxiety can be good since they spur you into action, a little goes a long way.
As human beings, we are all damaged. We all have anxiety and pain and trauma, some worse than others. Practicing mindfulness and taking that inner journey can help you begin the healing process, whether or not you have severe ongoing anxiety or occasional anxiety.
Feeling anxious all of the time can have serious health consequences. Chronic fear or trauma can impact your physical health, your memory, your brain processing and activity, and even your mental health.
Once these fear pathways are ramped up, the brain reacts by short-circuiting the more rational processing paths. Receiving signals from the amygdala, the brain starts to perceive events as negative.
When your brain is in this overactive state, something called the amygdala hijack occurs. In turn, this causes the brain to perceive events as negative, and it continues to remember them that way.
This term was coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
The brain then stores all of the details surrounding the danger, including the sights, the sounds, the time of day, and even the weather. These memories can trigger fear even after the onset of the original event, eventually causing more stress and anxiety, or even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In other words, you may continue to feel anxiety or fear but not fully understand why.
Covid-19 and the Stress Response
If you are feeling stressed and anxious because of Covid-19, that’s perfectly normal.
It's not always easy maintaining a positive attitude during something like a pandemic. Life is challenging. Things happen. We make plans that quickly fall apart.
Anxiety and stress can become overbearing. You're basically living in that fight or flight mode all of the time. You live with an overwhelming sense of pressure and fear, and it's not a fun place to be.
The road may not be easy, but you persevere.
When you practice mindfulness, you can learn how to sur-thrive, even during a pandemic. Using the tools offered in mindfulness you can start managing your stress.
You can learn to transform post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and pain caused by Covid-19 into peace, tranquility, and stillness. You can learn how to sur-thrive even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Stress and anxiety have become a way of life. It's easy to get caught up in the anxiety cycle, but the truth of the matter is that making time to meditate, and practice mindfulness can actually make your day run more smoothly. One of the best things you can do if you feel stress or anxiety coming on is to take a short mindfulness break.
Just like a shower cleanses the body, mindfulness and meditation cleanse the spirit and the emotional body.
Stress and anxiety can lead to health problems down the road so if you don't find a way to manage it, the stress will start managing you.
Being mindful means taking a step back to smell the roses along the way and learning how to appreciate the little things in your life.
Try this simple exercise the next time you feel stressed and anxious.
SMILE One-Minute Mindfulness Technique
Today I intend to not worry about what happened yesterday, or what may happen tomorrow, but to live one day at a time!
Make Yourself Mindful
Let Everything Go
Ease into the Stillness
The SMILE mindfulness technique is a great quick technique you can use to immediately diffuse anxiety and stress. In terms of practicing mindfulness, it doesn't get any simpler than this. Try this technique whenever you feel anxiety or stress coming on.
The next time you feel stressed or anxious, take a moment to stop and take a breath. It is not always necessary to be doing something, and, as a matter of fact, there is a lot of power in doing absolutely nothing. It's OK to let the anxiety go and to step away from it, even for just a moment. The truth is your anxiety is just a feeling or a response and it does not define who you are as a person.
Make Yourself Mindful
The next step involves being mindful of your surroundings. Breathe deeply and begin focusing your awareness on the present moment. As you breathe, try focusing on how the breath feels moving through your body. Feel the sensation of the air on your skin or the sun on your face, if you are outside. Pay attention to the sounds and sensations all around you.
Breathing deeply is an exercise in itself, and the more aware you become of your breath, the more peaceful you will feel. Breathe deeply, into your diaphragm until you feel the stress melting away. See if you can sense or feel the anxiety in your body or imagine it as a color. Gather the anxiety with each deep inhale and gently release it with each exhale. You can also imagine the anxiety leaving the body as a color like gray, inhaling fresh new energy as a beautiful white light.
Let Everything Go
Let everything go, the stress of the day, the anxiety, and the tension. Take a moment to de-focus. See if you can view your anxiety and stress like a black cloud and practice pushing it away. See how long you can stay with this feeling.
Ease into the Stillness
Imagine you are immersed in a beautiful white cloud and all of your anxiety is on hold. If you see anxious thoughts coming into your awareness, just keep pushing them away until you are surrounded by the silence. There is something really peaceful and beautiful about taking a few minutes to breathe deeply or taking a few moments to just sit and admire a sunset.
Stay in this moment of appreciation as long as you like and don't forget to SMILE. You can also repeat an affirmation like:
"I am at peace. Today I intend to not worry about what happened yesterday, or what may happen tomorrow, but to live one day at a time!”
You can practice mindfulness in many different ways from breathing deeply to sitting outside and focusing on something in your environment. You can even practice mindfulness through an everyday routine like washing the dishes or taking a shower because it's really about paying attention to and focusing on the moment.
Being mindful can help you relieve stress and anxiety, lower your blood pressure, help you manage pain, and even help you sleep better. The point is - you cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time so practicing mindfulness can help you feel relaxed more often and that's really the ultimate goal.
We feel so passionate about helping you stay calm within the stress, that we are currently developing a new sur-thrival guide that we hope to publish soon: